Top teacher calls for end to tenure

Holly Boffy, center, 2010 Louisiana teacher of the year, speaks Wednesday with Rotarians Dan N. Day, left, and Jamey Firnberg before her speech to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. Boffy, who now works for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, said teacher tenure should be abolished.
Holly Boffy, center, 2010 Louisiana teacher of the year, speaks Wednesday with Rotarians Dan N. Day, left, and Jamey Firnberg before her speech to the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. Boffy, who now works for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, said teacher tenure should be abolished.

Louisiana’s 2010 teacher of the year said Wednesday that teacher tenure should be abolished.

“We need to get rid of it as soon as we possibly can,” said Holly Boffy, who won the award as an educator at Paul Breaux Middle School in Lafayette.

Boffy, who plans to run for the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education this fall, made her comments during a question-and-answer session after she addressed the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge.

Under current rules, teachers earn job security — it is called tenure — after three years on the job, if they meet certain standards. But Boffy said the rules mean that, if teachers clear all the hurdles after three years, they essentially have a job for good.

“There are individuals who take advantage of that situation,” she said.

In a brief interview, Boffy acknowledged that any effort to change the state’s tenure laws would be controversial. “It is a very tough subject,” she said.

“But when you start looking at what is in the best interests of children, then you know the answer,” Boffy said.

“And it is not in the best interest of children,” she said of tenure.

Earlier this year, Chas Roemer, a member of BESE, launched a bid to abolish the state’s teacher tenure law, which he said protects poorly performing teachers. However, that effort failed to generate any action. In addition, a bill to revamp Louisiana’s teacher tenure law died last year amid opposition.

Backers of teacher tenure contend it protects educators from unfair firings.

In the interview, Boffy said she plans to run for the District 7 BESE seat from southwest Louisiana held by Dale Bayard of Lake Charles. Bayard declined comment on Boffy’s views on tenure.

The post is one of eight BESE seats on the ballot this year. Three others are named by the governor.

Boffy, who spent 10 years as a classroom teacher, told the Rotary Club she left the profession because her 4-year-old son has a bone disorder that requires more job flexibility than she had as a teacher.

She is director of professional development and university programs for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana, called APEL.

That group is one of three teacher organizations in Louisiana but often differs with the views of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, known as LFT, and the Louisiana Association of Educators, called LAE.

Leaders of the LFT and LAE have denounced efforts to abolish teacher tenure.

In her comments to the Rotary Club, Boffy touted the work of a nonprofit group called Dream Teachers.

The organization includes business groups and others that work with the state Department of Education to elevate the annual teacher and principal of the year programs.

It also sponsors an annual symposium on education topics.

Boffy told the group that, aside from teachers, judges and university professors are nearly the only other jobs that offer tenure.

“That doesn’t help my profession to be viewed as a profession,” Boffy said of teachers.